CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/507,191 filed Sep. 30, 2003.
The present invention relates generally to implantable surgical meshes, and more particularly, to implantable surgical meshes that contain both absorbable and non-absorbable portions in a configuration such that, following absorption of the absorbable portions, the mesh becomes discontinuous in a predetermined direction.
2. Background Discussion
Implantable surgical meshes have been widely used for a variety of different surgical procedures such as hernia repair, pelvic floor repair, urethral slings for treating incontinence, and many others. A woven or knitted mesh structure is desirable in that it allows tissue ingrowth into and through the mesh. The tissue ingrowth is in the form of a tissue fibrosis, where non-oriented tissue cells invade the mesh and grow in a random, disorganized fashion. The combination of mesh and ingrown tissue, however, produces a relatively hard, inflexible construction that does not resemble the tissue structure that it is reinforcing or replacing. This is due, in part, to the fact that the mesh structure in combination with the random ingrowth pattern of the tissue does not reflect the natural, organized cell structure in the absence of the foreign body (mesh). Thus, the resulting relatively inflexible structure can lead to tissue erosion problems in proximity to the implant and/or to organs in the vicinity of the implant.
To alleviate these problems, it is known to reduce the amount of tissue ingrowth and decrease the rigidity of the implant by adding absorbable fibers to an otherwise non-absorbable mesh. One such mesh is VyproŽ, which is manufactured by Ethicon, Inc. of Somerville, N.J. This mesh is comprised of a combination of about equal parts of polyglactin polymer filaments and polypropylene filaments. When the polyglactin absorbs, it significantly reduces the amount of mesh that remains within the body, leaving only the polypropylene behind. FIG. 1 provides a closer look at the mesh structure of VyproŽ. As illustrated, the absorbable polyglactin filaments 100 are positioned next to one another and follow a somewhat sinusoidal path along the entire width of the mesh, or along the x-axis of FIG. 1. The non-absorbable polypropylene filaments 104 are woven more tightly around the individual polyglactin filaments, but also cross over between adjacent polyglactin filaments, as indicated in area 106. By crossing over, the polypropylene filaments are linked together along the y-axis, as well as extending along the length of the mesh along the x-axis. Thus, when the polyglactin filaments are absorbed, what remains is a mesh of polyproylene filaments that is continuous in both the x and y directions. In other words, the mesh that remains implanted maintains its full width construction and the scarring that invades the mesh is continuous throughout leaving a wide three-dimensional collagen fiber network. This structure ensures tissue ingrowth in a randomized manner along both the entire width and length of the mesh structure. As indicated above, such random ingrowth does not mimic the natural tissue structure of the tissue that is being reinforced or replaced, and may be unsuitable where narrow bands of tissue are to be replaced or reinforced, or where the tissue to be replaced requires more flexibility, especially in one particular direction.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Accordingly, there is a need for an improved implantable surgical mesh that reduces or alleviates the problems discussed above, and that promotes tissue ingrowth that more closely mirrors natural body tissue.
An implantable surgical mesh is provided, one embodiment of which includes a plurality of absorbable filaments and a plurality of non-absorbable filaments, wherein substantially all of the non-absorbable filaments are substantially aligned in a single direction with substantially no cross-linking therebetween, and wherein the plurality of absorbable filaments are interwoven with the non-absorbable filaments to thereby form a bi-directional mesh structure prior to absorption of the absorbable filaments.
In one embodiment, the plurality of absorbable and non-absorbable filaments are constructed in a woven configuration, and in another embodiment substantially all of the absorbable filaments are fill and substantially all of the non-absorbable filaments are wrap.
In an alternate embodiment, the plurality of absorbable and non-absorbable filaments are constructed in a knitted configuration. In further embodiments, the absorbable and non-absorbable filaments may alternate, the ratio of absorbable to non-absorbable filaments may be less or greater than 1:1.
The plurality of absorbable and non-absorbable filaments may alternatively be constructed in a combination knitted and woven configuration, or in a non-woven configuration.
In one embodiment, the non-absorbable filaments are selected from the group consisting of polypropylene, polyester, polyethylene, acrylic, polyamides, aramids, fluropolymer filaments, and flurocarbon filaments, and in yet another embodiment, the absorbable filaments are selected from the group consisting of polyglacting, polydioxanone, polycaprolactone, polylactic acid, and polylactide.
Also provided is an implantable surgical mesh having a plurality of absorbable filaments and a plurality of non-absorbable filaments, wherein substantially all of the non-absorbable filaments are arranged in rows which are aligned in a single direction with substantially no cross-linking therebetween, and wherein the plurality of absorbable filaments are arranged in rows which are aligned in a single direction and interwoven with the non-absorbable filaments to thereby form a bi-directional mesh structure prior to absorption of the absorbable filaments.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.
FIG. 1 illustrates the configuration of a prior art mesh incorporating absorbable and non-absorbable fibers;
FIGS. 2 a and 2 b depict the pubocervical fascia within the pelvic cavity of a female;
FIG. 3 illustrates one embodiment of a woven mesh according to the present invention;
FIG. 4 illustrates an alternate embodiment of a woven mesh according to the present invention;
FIG. 5 illustrates a third alternate embodiment of a woven mesh according to the present invention;
FIG. 6 illustrates a fourth embodiment of a woven mesh according to the present invention;
FIGS. 7A and 7B illustrate alternate embodiments of a knitted mesh according to the present invention;
FIGS. 8A and 8B illustrate further embodiments of a knitted mesh according to the present invention;
FIG. 9 illustrates yet another embodiment of a knitted mesh according to the present invention;
FIG. 10 illustrates a combination woven and knitted mesh according to the present invention;
FIG. 11 illustrates another embodiment of a combination woven and knitted mesh according to the present invention;
FIGS. 12 a-c illustrate various embodiments wherein the absorbable and non-absorbable filaments are constructed in a non-woven configuration; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 13 illustrates one embodiment of the present invention having a tri-axially woven configuration.
Before explaining the present invention in detail, it should be noted that the invention is not limited in its application or use to the details of construction and arrangement of parts illustrated in the accompanying drawings and description. The illustrative embodiments of the invention may be implemented or incorporated in other embodiments, variations and modifications, and may be practiced or carried out in various ways. Further, although the present invention is primarily described in conjunction with pelvic floor repair procedures, it is to be understood that the invention and the principles described herein can be incorporated into any implantable surgical mesh used for any purpose. Some of those uses include but are not limited to, incontinence repair, ligament or smooth muscle repair in orthopedic procedures, cartilage repair for plastic surgery, or tissue replacement in orthopedic joints such as the meniscus of the knee and the labrum of the shoulder. Additional uses are for rebuilding smooth muscle within the abdominal or thoracic cavities because of loss due to trauma or disease.
As was stated above, known implantable surgical meshes that incorporate absorbable and non-absorbable fibers leave behind (following absorption) a mesh structure that is continuous in both directions, thereby allowing randomized ingrowth substantially along the entire surface area of the mesh in a manner that does not approximate natural tissue growth. Referring now to FIGS. 2 a and 2b, the pubocervical fascia within the pelvic cavity of a female is shown in detail. These figures illustrate the pubocervical fascia relative to the pelvic bones and especially to the ischial spine and ischial tuberosity, as well as the pubic bone and obturator fossa rami, and also relative to the urethra 202, the bladder 204, the cervix 206, and the vagina 208. The horizontal portion of the pubocervical fascia 210 supports the bladder and vagina, and extends laterally from the tissue surrounding the vagina, outward to the fascial white line 212. The distal or vertical portion of the pubocervical fascia 214 supports the urethra and urethrovesical junction and provides a backstop against which the urethra is compressed during straining activity, such as coughing. As shown, the horizontal pubocervical fascia includes multiple striations that primarily extend laterally in the direction described above (between the fascial white line and the vaginal tissue), with very little cross-linking between these striations. Thus, in the natural state of the horizontal portion of the pubocervical fascia, the striations extend primarily in a single direction. The same is true for the vertical pubocervical fascia, and for the uterosacral ligaments 216.
The present invention provides a mesh that will more closely resemble natural tissue structure, such as that of the pubocervical fascia. One embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 3. The mesh 300 is a plain weave mesh including a plurality of absorbable filaments 302 positioned next to one another and extending along the width of the mesh in direction x, and a plurality of non-absorbable filaments 304 positioned next to one another and extending along the length of the mesh in direction y, and woven through the absorbable filaments. Thus, following absorption of the absorbable fibers, all that remains is a mesh structure of non-absorbable fibers that is continuous in a single direction, with substantially no cross-linking among the remaining fibers. The remaining mesh will have substantially flexibility in the x direction where there is no cross-linking, and less flexibility in the y direction where the non-absorbable filaments remain. Such a plain weave mesh can be manufactured by any well known technique, such as a shuttle loom, Jacquard loom or Gripper loom. In these looms the process of weaving remains similar, the interlacing of two systems of yarns at right angles. This lacing can be simple as in a plain weave (FIG. 3) where the lacing is over one and under one. Placing the absorbable yarns in one direction, either fill (302) or wrap (304) (for each of FIGS. 3-6 reference numeral 302 is used to denote absorbable fibers and 304 to denote non-absorbable fibers) will result in a final remaining product of the non-absorbent yarns evenly spaced in one direction. Changing the plain weave to a more elaborate construction such as twill weave or satin weave, will provide different looks to the initial fabric, but as long as the absorbable material is laid-in in only one direction then the resultant product will still have yarns attaching only on one end and no cross supports holding then together.
Another method of weaving is a leno weave. In this construction two warp yarns are twisted and the fill yarns are passed through the twist, FIG. 4. If the fill yarn 302 is absorbable, and the fabric is made in an open construction there is some slack or spacing in the twisted warps 304. This can produce a resultant material, after the fills are re-absorbed, which has some elongation characteristics. The warps, however, are not connected and although they are individually embedded with scar tissue, there is no significant cross over of the scar tissue from yarn to yarn. It will be clear to those skilled in the art that additional variations of the basic weaves such as, sateen weaves, antique satin, warp faced twills (FIG. 5) herringbone twills (FIG. 6) and tri-axially woven fabrics as well as others can be used to create woven fabrics that will produce the same results when one of the directional yarns absorbs.
It is also possible to create fabrics using other manufacturing techniques, which will eventually produce a product, after some of the yarns or filaments have absorbed, which is discontinuous and will provide support by connecting between two tissue areas, without significant connection between the yarns. These fabrics are constructed by knitting, which is a process of making cloth with a single yarn or set of yarns moving in only one direction. In weaving, two sets of yarns cross over and under each other. In knitting, the single yarn is looped through itself to make the chain of stitches. One method to do this is described as weft knitting, an example of which is shown in FIG. 7A. In this construction the yarns are introduced from the side (the x direction) or horizontally opposite to the direction of growth of the fabric (the y direction). To create the discontinuous mesh, alternating yarns (i.e., yarns 702) would be absorbable yarns. The ratio of absorbable to non-absorbable yarns can be adjusted to control the distance between the discontinuous portions of the mesh. Therefore, by laying-in multiple yarns of absorbable and or non-absorbable material the width of the non-absorbable section can be controlled. This will provide different amounts of structural integrity of the remaining yarns. As an example illustrated in FIG. 7B, using two non absorbable yarns 701 side by side, and three absorbable yarns 702 side by side between them would produce a final fabric, after absorption, with larger space between the continuous yarns and narrower width of the remaining material. Variations on this type construction will produce a remaining fabric, which promotes either more of less scar tissue depending on the amount of fabric and distance between sections. This can be adjusted for the type of tissue, which is being replaced. A lighter tissue, such as a fascia for supporting or connecting organs, can use a knitted mesh that has a wider section of absorbable and a narrower section of non-absorbable. A heavy tissue, such a ligaments for connecting bones across a joint, can have more non-absorbable yarns and less or narrower absorbable portions.
A second method for knitting a fabric or mesh is warp knitting. In this method the yarns are introduced in the direction of the growth of the fabric (in the y direction) as is illustrated in FIGS. 8A and 8B. In this type fabric the yarns or filaments are looped vertically and also to a limited extent diagonally, with the diagonal movement connecting the rows of loops. As with the weft knit fabrics, alternate yarns can be absorbable (i.e., 802) or non-absorbable (i.e., 804). Controlling the number and ratio of absorbable to non-absorbable yarns will control the final material configuration and again the amount of in growth of scar tissue. In FIG. 8A, alternating absorbable and non-absorbable yarns produces a final construction with a narrow space between the remaining yarns which are filled in with tissue. By increasing the spacing between successive absorbable yarns (as shown in FIG. 8B) the spacing between remaining yarns can be selectively increased or decreased. In this manner, as with woven meshes, the warp knits can be adjusted to create various amounts of tissue creation and therefore can more closely emulate the tissue it is meant to replace.
Different types of warp knits can be used to construct a fabric for this purpose, such as Tricots, Raschel and Cidega knits. In producing a warp knit with a Raschel knitting machine, multiple variations in construction can be achieved. Most will produce a fabric that will function essentially the same as described above. However, there is a technique in Raschel knitting that uses a “fall plate” that can produce a structure that will look more like a woven fabric, as shown in FIG. 9. A single yarn 901 is carried across a number of warps, 902 and 903, in a horizontal or diagonal direction. This yarn connects and holds the warps together. When this yarn is made from an absorbable material and the warps are made from non-absorbable material, the final result after absorption will be only the warps aligned in the length direction with no connection between them. Again variations on the ratio of non-absorbable to absorbable material in the side by side warp yarns can produce a resultant construction with the yarns further apart or closer depending on how many warps are form either absorbable or non-absorbable material.
A third method of constructing a fabric consists of combining weaving and knitting. This method is called Co-We-Nit and is illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11. In this construction, knitting and weaving is combined to create fabrics with greater dimensional stability than conventional knits but with some of the properties of knitted goods. Starting with a weft knit shown in FIG. 10, the loop yarns 1001 are fed from across the fabric, a straight strand or strands of yarns 1002 are inserted in the opposite or warp direction (the y direction). These strands add stability to the knit in the vertical or warp direction, but do not affect the properties, such as elongation, in the weft direction. In the present invention, this fabric would have these laid-in warp yarns as non-absorbable and the weft yarns as absorbable. The resultant fabric would be easy to handle and position within the body, and provide a minimum of structure for the scar tissue to form around after the absorbable yarns have gone. Spacing of these warp yarns and the size or diameter would control the density of the remaining tissue. This same method can be used to produce a fabric from warp knitting as shown in FIG. 11, which will contain laid-in weft yarns 1101 so that the stretch and elongation properties of the mesh in the warp direction (y direction) can be maintained in the initial construction, and then leave remaining a minimal structure after the absorbable warp yarns 1102 have gone.
In alternate embodiments according to the present invention, the plurality of absorbable and non-absorbable filaments are constructed in a non-woven configuration. For example, FIG. 12 a illustrates non-absorbable filaments spaced apart and positioned in a substantially uniform direction, with absorbable filaments 1202 being randomly oriented throughout. FIG. 12 b illustrates non-absorbable filaments 1203 similarly positioned, but with the absorbable filaments 1204 positioned randomly, but substantially perpendicularly to the non-absorbable filaments. Finally, FIG. 12 c illustrates a film or paper sheet 1205, such as a polydioxanone film or oxygen regenerated cellulose film, with non-absorbable filaments 1206 positioned spaced apart and in a substantially uniform direction. In the example of a sheet of paper, the fibers of the paper can be made from an absorbable material such as the oxygen regenerated cellulose, chopped into short filaments and then cast into a sheet. Other paper like constructions can include materials like poly vinyl alcohols, or collagen fibers derived from porcine or bovine sources.
Returning now to FIGS. 2 a and 2 b, a mesh according to the present invention can be used to reinforced or replace the pubourethral ligament, or the horizontal portion of the pubocervical fascia, both of which have striations oriented primarily in a single direction as described above. With the mesh implanted so that the non-absorbable filaments are aligned with the natural striations, the remaining structure mimics the natural striations and allows flexibility in the opposite direction as does the natural ligament.
In a preferred embodiment, the absorbable filament is polygalactin and the non-absorbable filament is Polypropylene monofilament of 2.0 mils to 7.0 mils diameter, however, any suitable biocompatible absorbable and non-absorbable filaments could be used. It may be desirable to select a non-absorbable filament to control the desired structure integrity time, i.e. the time in which is takes for the filaments to absorb. The following table illustrates the approximate length of time it takes for various absorbable fibers to completely absorb:
|Fiber ||Absorption Time ||0 lbs BSR |
|Polygalactin || 90 days || 42 days |
|Polydioxanone ||200 days || 90 days |
|Monocryl ||119 days || 28 days |
|Poly lactic acid ||30 months ||>200 days |
|Oxygen || 7 days || 2 days |
|Polycaprolactone ||40-90 days ||20-45 days |
The table above also illustrates the breaking strength (BSR) of these materials as compared to the absorption times. The BSR measures the time at which the material, in suture or filament form, will lose enough strength so that its tensile strength reaches essentially 0 lbs. Thus, the BSR more closely represents the loss of integrity of the structure.
In addition to selecting different materials, the diameter of the filaments can be selected to alter the physical properties of the mesh. For example, the absorbable filaments may be of smaller, or larger diameters than the non-absorbable filaments. Increasing the diameter of the filament can increase the absorption time as well.
FIG. 4 shows another embodiment of the present invention. A mesh 400 includes a plurality of helically coiled non-absorbable filaments 402 extending the length of the mesh in the x direction, but which are separate and not interwoven with one another. A plurality of non-absorbable filaments are positioned between successive absorbable filaments, but are also woven through the non-absorbable filaments on either side. In this manner, the absorbable filaments are part of the structure of the mesh and provide structural integrity for the mesh in the y direction. When the absorbable filaments are completely absorbed, however, what remains is only the non-absorbable filaments extending in the x direction with no binding together or cross-linking of adjacent filaments.
Although specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein, it is to be understood that any weave or knit patterns, or non-woven patterns, in which the absorbable filaments dissolve or are absorbed to leave behind a substantially uni-directional mesh structure is within the scope of the invention. Further, although the described embodiments show no interweaving among successive non-absorbable filaments, some cross-weaving can take place and still provide a mesh with substantially uni-directional filaments. For example, in FIG. 10 one or two rows of the weft yarns 1001 can be non-absorbable and then 5 to 10 rows can be absorbable. The resultant fabric will have a loose connection between the warp yarns 1002. In these types of fabrics, yarns can also be laid in a diagonal direction, thereby creating a structure that has permanent support in a third alternate direction. In Tri-axially woven fabrics, the absorbable warp yarns 1005, 1006 are set in at two diagonal directions with the non-absorbable fill yarns 1007 extending substantially parallel to one another in a single direction, as shown in FIG. 12. Changing the absorbable and non-absorbable yarns from the fill to the warp, either both or one, provides yet another construction, which when the absorbable warp yarns resorb, yields a discontinuous structure, consisting of only the remaining non-absorbable fill yarns.
In yet another embodiment of the concept, the construction of the fabric can made from a non-woven process. In the non-woven process, filaments are mechanically deposited to form a mat. The mat is then treated to provide integrity. The treatment can include manipulation of the filaments to entangle them or melt them together, or bind them with an adhesive or curing resin. In this example, alternate strips of the mat can be composed of non-absorbable and absorbable material such that as the absorbable material absorbs and the mat structure becomes discrete strips of material. These remaining strips will be in grown with tissue and provide a unidirectional support for the tissue. As with the weaves or knits described above, yarns of non-absorbable material may be laid in in the non-woven fabric. If the deposited filaments are absorbable and are bound together either through mechanical, thermal or chemical methods, then as they dissolve, the non-absorbable yarns will remain and provide the structure for tissue in growth. As described above, these yarns can be interlaced as well as linear. Further, they can be in a sinusoidal pattern or other side to side type pattern, and can be in the machine (warp) direction, cross (weft or fill) direction or diagonal, so long as they provide permanent connection of the remaining structure to the surrounding tissue, and provide a support for the tissue as well as a scaffold for the tissue to grow on and in.
An additional method to create a structure which will have a continuous construction initially, and then a discontinuous structure after some of the material has dissolved is to build a lamination of different materials. In this example a sheet of absorbable material such as oxygenated regenerated cellulose (ORC) can be laminated to filaments of a non-absorbable material such as polypropylene. The sheet can be produced with a wet lay process such as in the manufacture of papers, or a dry lay process such as in the manufacture of felts or non-wovens, or as a film. Once the structure is placed in the body the ORC material will dissolve within a few days leaving the polypropylene in place. The polypropylene elicits a foreign body response and inflammation. The inflammation leads to fibrotic activity and the cascade of scarring occurs. Scar tissue forms around the polypropylene filaments covering them through their length but not producing a significant amount of cross over between them. This then produces an essentially discontinuous configuration of scar tissue.
Depending on the distance between the filaments, usually greater than 1000 microns, scar formation will not bridge across the gap. However some light tissue formation may occur. This may even be encouraged by crossing a very few filaments, either in the opposite direction, or by allowing some filaments to curve or wind enough to reach others. In this way building a support mechanism for injured or diseased tissue can be precisely controlled to match the original tissue in thickness and flexibility properties.
Although several embodiments of a mesh for pelvic floor prolapse repair have been described, those skilled in the art will recognize that various other mesh configurations can also be used in conjunction with the procedures and techniques described herein. It will be further apparent from the foregoing that other modifications of the inventions described herein can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the appended claims.